Leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire has announced that it is working with ‘On Our Radar’ to build a network of citizen reporters – young disabled people who will be trained in the art of reporting and campaigning on the issues that matter to them.
The project, made possible by Act for Change Fund, will pilot under the working title of Future Leaders in four cities, Belfast, Swansea, Manchester and Glasgow.
Leonard Cheshire will recruit eight lead young reporters to receive specialist intensive training from delivery partner On Our Radar.
The young leads will recruit, train and mentor a further 60 young reporters in their local areas over the course of the project, which runs until December 2021.
The youth campaigning pilot will be funded by Act for Change Fund, which is a £3.6 million partnership between Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for organisations supporting young people working for change.
The Fund provides resources for young people to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to issues they are experiencing.
The idea behind the project came from a group of young disabled people, who wanted to give voice to the frustrations they felt. They told the charity they wanted to campaign in their local communities but lacked the skills and confidence to do so.
It was inspired by Leonard Cheshire’s work in the UK, including youth skills-development programme Can Do, and countries such as Kenya, where the charity trained citizen reporters to tell the stories and campaign on the issues that matter most to them.
Joshua Reeves, Campaign Support Officer at Leonard Cheshire, said: “This initiative will give so many young people a voice to tell stories that need to be said.
“We have seen how powerful citizen reporting can be through our projects in countries such as Kenya in terms of empowering people to campaign on the issues that mean the most to them.
“You can report and campaign with nothing more than a mobile phone and Skype. I’ve seen this work when campaigning with the Commonwealth Youth Council.”
She continued: “So, you can bring a successful campaign with the right mentoring and skills; you can make a massive difference to your local community and disabled people around the country.
“My campaigning has taken me to different heights over the years from teaching primary school children about disability rights and awareness and to receive a Points of Light award of the former Prime Minister Theresa May for campaigning in Antigua.”
Laura Jump, CEO of On Our Radar, said: “We’re thrilled to be continuing our long-standing relationship with Leonard Cheshire.
“We have previously worked together to amplify the voices of people living with disabilities across the world; in Zambia, the Philippines, Kenya and Sierra Leone as part of Leonard Cheshire’s Missing Voices campaign.
“These projects have focussed on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and we are excited to build upon the learning from these projects to support the activities of young future leaders in the UK.
“On Our Radar is an inter-disciplinary communication agency for unheard and marginalised communities – we use co-design and co-creation methodologies to build bridges.”